March 2016


Thoughts My Brain Made

Anger is fuel. Mishandled, it will blow up in your face.

Tuesday,  March 29, 2016  McGehee

Real Estate, 3

The trees are leaving — er, leafing — and soon we'll be able to pretend once again that there aren't other people living close by who can see our lighted windows every bit as easily as we can see theirs. But the pretense is becoming thinner than usual this year.

In the last few days we got another "can I buy your house?" inquiry, from a different would-be buyer. This lends support to our suspicion that a developer wants to consolidate properties hereabouts for a housing subdivision. Under existing rules, a property the size of ours, of which so much is water, could only support four or five building lots, nowhere near enough to be profitable.

We don't know whether our neighbors with smaller places are also being approached, but it makes sense that a developer tries to get larger properties lined up first. I imagine we're being contacted because now it's getting down to the mid-sized pieces.

Wanting to be good neighbors, we should put the word out that we are being approached — and that we expect to move away anyway when Mrs. McG retires — so others can plan accordingly.

Even if we refused to sell for whatever plan this is, it's likely the population density close by here will go way up before much longer. And then no amount of summer greenery will support the pretense of privacy.

Tuesday,  March 29, 2016  McGehee

It's True, I'm a Poseur

When I snuck in the back way and set up a new Twitter account, I called myself (after a couple of attempts that just didn't work for me) "Obey the Mustache." And for some reason it seemed that a default slogan of "The mustache abides" would be perfectly appropriate.

I knew of the line from The Big Lebowski that goes, "The Dude abides," and I know a lot of people on the internet who loved that film. I didn't know that the line is said in a scene featuring Jeff Bridges and Sam Elliott (whose image from Tombstone I cropped for my Twitter avatar because mustache).

I didn't know it because I've never seen the movie. I don't really know that it had ever sunk in for me that Elliott was even in it.

I have a knack for pretending familiarity with pop culture crap like that, thanks to who I hang out with, and the combination of the better-than-average memory God gave me and the somewhat more problematical one Google put online. But I guess if I'm going to use a motto that echoes that movie line, maybe I should go ahead and see the damn movie. (Thank God for Netflix.)

I'm thinking once the election mess has gotten less ripe I might change the Twitter handle to "The Mustache Abides," but right now I'm feeling too bossy to change it.

Saturday,  March 26, 2016  McGehee

Executive Decision

I'll give it until midsummer, when my cell contract will be half done. If my contract phone hasn't caught up to Android 6 by then, I'm replacing it with a new one from Google.

I'll wait out the contract, but I won't do it on a phone that won't update.

Update (heh): Okay, I might wait until October.

'Nother update: It now appears, according to at least one site, that AT&T has abandoned this phone they sold me. It hasn't updated in several months and despite the promise of an Android 6 upgrade there's currently no positive indication that will ever materialize.

This makes it not only obsolete but vulnerable to cyber attack. So until I hear otherwise, I'm back on my older phone, which already has Android 6 and updates with patches every month.

Thursday,  March 24, 2016  McGehee

How to Feel Old

My most intensive exposure to "Star Trek" — the original series, that is — was in syndicated reruns on afternoon TV while I was in elementary school. Considering that the series had been canceled by NBC when I was only seven, that's a quick turnaround by the standards of the era.

I remember hearing about what a phenomenon the show had become in syndication and how wonderful it would be if it ever resurfaced in some form or other. The animated series was a sop in some ways, but Filmation's production values simply couldn't do the stories justice.

Then came the success of 1977's Star Wars, and we finally got Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979. It seemed like a lifetime, but it was released only ten years after the series had ended.

From that first movie until Nemesis spanned 23 years — it's been 14 years now since the latter was released. And now fans are awaiting the third installment in an alternate-timeline "reboot" movie franchise 50 years after the first episode aired.

That ten-year stretch when "Star Trek" existed only in fan conventions seemed a lot longer when I was in elementary and junior-high school.

(Inspired obliquely by this post at Local Malcontent.)

Wednesday,  March 23, 2016  McGehee

Until the Next Time

Far be it from me, after so many past resolutions and reversals, to tell you that I am done with Windows forever, but I've got Linux Mint running in dual-boot on my laptop now, and with one of my cloud storage accounts apparently mirroring successfully in the new environment I have some hope that I won't need to revert to Windows except for rare necessity.

It's clear that Windows has peaked and begun to decline as a usable operating system. I don't know that Mint is the path to the future in a time when the desktop environment itself has long since been pronounced doomed, but as long as there are things I can't do worth a damn in Android, I might as well do 'em in Linux.

If I can't promise this is the end of it, I can at least resolve to give it the ol' bunkhouse try.

Update: In fact, now I have both of my active cloud storage accounts synching in Linux, and no obvious reason to switch back over to Windows at all.

Sunday,  March 20, 2016  McGehee

The Future of Flight?

Those annoying little drones are about to change the way aircraft are designed and built.

Multi-rotor drones are more stable because the lift footprint (if there's such a phrase) is wider, and when the rotors are distributed around the edges, the body interferes less with the air's downward motion, which means the rotors provide more actual thrust.

By not wasting thrust you get more lift with shorter rotors, which require less power to rotate faster, amplifying the benefit of more rotors.

Processing power used in miniature drones allows the thrust on each rotor to be adjusted more responsively to changing conditions.

While I'm not big on the idea of pilotless passenger drones, I can see these innovations making the piloting of small aircraft simpler with computer-assist (as most of us already have to some extent in our cars), which could finally put personal VTOL flight within reach.

Though I find myself picturing the sudden cloud of rotored vehicles every rush hour on L.A.'s 405 freeway, rising like newly-fledged giant mosquitoes, trying to escape the traffic jam — only to lock rotor shrouds with one another and tumble onto the frontage streets, and onto the buildings facing them.

Darwin nods, quietly snickering up his sleeve.

Saturday,  March 12, 2016  McGehee

Thoughts My Brain Made

Undeserved compliments and undeserved insults are more alike than different.

Saturday,  March 12, 2016  McGehee

Listen Up

The only people excited about the race for the Democratic presidential nomination are the spaced-out, weed-befogged rubes supporting Bernie.

The rest are divided between disaffected Dems drawn to vote for Trump because their notion of an ideal president is Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, and Hillary supporters who are certain that (1) Hillary is the nominee, finally, this time, and that (2) if the Republicans actually nominate a Republican for president this year, Hillary will be in cuffs before her concession speech ends.

Monday,  March 7, 2016  McGehee

How I Wish the Grinch Would Steal Summer

Here in subtropical west Georgia, fall and winter appeal to me most for lower temperature and humidity. During the summer it is often simply unbearable to go outside and do landowner-type chores.

And yet, in the winter when nothing is growing anyway, there aren't a whole lot of landowner-type chores to go outside and do.

Well, a week from tomorrow daylight-saving time kicks in again, and then about a week later it's the equinox and the days will be longer than the nights for the next six months.

And the grass will grow.

And the weeds will grow.

And the underbrush will grow.

And the tree limbs will grow.

And I will mow, and mow, and mow, and mow.

Oh, how I will mow.

I will mow, and a week later it won't even show.

Saturday,  March 5, 2016  McGehee

It's March Now, So My Background Image Is Green

The photograph serving as the background image this spring was taken by Mrs. McG in, I believe, 2005 (if not, then 2008 — but I'm pretty sure it was '05) on a visit to central Wyoming. It is the north face of Lost Wells Butte, northwest of Riverton. It overlooks Missouri Valley, which as you can see is a productive agricultural area — though I'm not sure what they grow, except possibly hay.

spring(lostwellsbutte)Given Wyoming's harsh winters and the importance of livestock to its economy, hay can be a good investment of land and irrigation.

The picture was actually taken in June, not March, but it looks springlike. I have a different background image I use for summer — taken in close proximity of both time and place to this one, but looking very different. You'll see it in a few months.

Wednesday,  March 2, 2016  McGehee

...in Three Words, 2

A better motto for Google, in three words:

Don't be stupid.

Although I still have more than a year on my current AT&T contract, I'm very interested in new approaches to phone service. I already have a Google phone number, which can be used ftrom a phone or tablet even without a SIM card — provided I'm logged in to wifi. Which, if I have engine trouble or a blowout on some highway 50 miles or more from the nearest McDonald's, means no way to call for help.

Google has Project Fi (Wikipedia article here), which offers access by cell or wifi depending on availability, through any participating carrier (currently Sprint or T-Mobile), provided you have one of the three most recently released Google Nexus phones (presumably all future GNexi will also qualify). It's intriguing precisely because it unchains the user from any one tower-mounted carrier and because you don't pay for unused data.

AT&T offers rollover data (their unlimited data is restricted to users who bundle their phone service with DirecTV), but unused bytes eventually go away. My wife and I don't generally use much cellular data except in emergencies so normally we pay for a lot of unused bytes. Fi actually credits users for unused data at a rate of a penny per megabyte, or $10 per gigabyte, which happens to be what they charge for data.

But here's where it gets stupid: to qualify for a Project Fi account, assuming you have a suitable phone, you have to have a standard Google account, with a Gmail address. A Google Apps account, which I have because I like my personal domain email address, can't (yet) sign up for Fi.

I'm already paying Google for this Apps account, and I'm paying Google to host my ak4mc.us domain. I want to be able to say (summer of next year) "Shut up and take more of my money!" so I can stop using AT&T. But there's no certainty that will be possible. Meanwhile any Gmail freeloader can sign up right now.

I went with Google Apps because I was tired of juggling multiple email addresses. I can, yes, set up a separate, garden-variety Google account to support the phone service. I shouldn't have to.

Anyway, if I signed up with Fi I'd be on a different carrier than my wife, who steadfastly refuses to give up her icky iPhone that won't work with any carrier but AT&T.

Eh, well. It's all academic for the next 16 months. Maybe Google will have figured out which ones and zeroes to rearrange by then.

Wednesday,  March 2, 2016  McGehee

Thoughts My Brain Made

Did you ever get the feeling that, if only you could figure out just what the hell was going on, you'd wish you hadn't?

Tuesday,  March 1, 2016  McGehee



March 2016


Original content and design © 2016 Kevin McGehee. Images and excerpts are © their respective owners.